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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Mission UK

Dum-Dum Bullets

Review by Mark Johnson

How do you describe what might be the last recording of a band that has been an important part of your life? When I first learned of this album I knew I wanted to review it. During the late 80s and throughout the 90s, The Mission, or as we refer to them here in America, “The Mission UK”’s CDs were with me at most parties, weekend excursions, and as a constant companion in the car. The emotion and power of their music and lyrics made the Mission’s albums an important part of my musical collection. However, I lost track of what they were up to when they slowed their recording during the ‘00s.  The global dynamics and presence of the Mission’s music is legendary. It transcends generations and mixes together the genres of goth, rock, alternative and prog. They do not fit comfortably into any category, which suits me. Their music is universal. The Middle Eastern elements blend well with their British influences, elevating their work to the level of art. Their music moves you with emotion and passion in the lyrics and delivery of the sound.

It is a real shame to think this may be their last album, but they are going out in style. Dum-Dum Bullet is a compilation of songs. Some of them recorded during the God is Bullet sessions, and others written during that time period, but left unreleased or unfinished until now. Hopefully there will be more of these compilations in the future.

This is one of my favorite albums of the year already. It is great to have some new or newly re-worked material from the Mission. It has spurred me on to keep up with what will happen to the band members as they go on their extended leave. Hopefully this album will not be the last and their website indicates that the band is leaving on good terms to pursue other outside projects. Although this new album is not all new material, it is full of renovations of their previous material mixed with some sparkling new songs. I highly recommend this disc for all fans of the band as well as those of you who have not experienced their sound before.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
It Don’t Matter Anymore Anyhow (previously released as an extra track on the Keep it in the Family EP)

A very cool cascading guitar riff kicks this rocker off to a great start with heavy bass and drums following closely behind. Power jam guitars and that heavy bass build the rhythm and fortify the strength of this track. Then Wayne Hussey joins in with vocals to provide the lyrics of the song’s storyline. That cool cascading guitar riff is repeated along with the Zeppelin like power bass and heavy guitar throughout. It’s a power blitz with Hussey shouting, “It don’t matter anymore, anyhow.” The confidence is back and ringing all over this song. This gets the party started.

Refugee (previously released as an extra track on the Keep it in the Family EP)
Raunchy grinding guitar opens this one with Hussey howling for extra effect. Hussey’s voice sounds as good as it did in the 80s and 90s. The launching guitar riffs are different and much heavier than I remember from the past. Hussey’s voice drives home the powerful lyrics on the refrain, “I don’t look back and I don’t reminisce / because there is nothing that I miss.” This is another solid rocker with fantastic support of bass and stomping drums.
Room 22 (new song)
Cool soaring guitar riffs open this, one of the new songs. This is a very lyrically driven song which Hussey handles as if he has not taken any time off. “Your apology means nothing to me.” This is one of the better songs on the disc, which is ironic if this ends up being their last. The new songs stand out and show a possible future for their continued collaboration. The guitar riffs are different and exotic. It’s an excellent new track for all the fans that have been waiting.
Chelsea Blue (previously only available digitally in Europe as an extra track with the “Blush” single release)
This is my favorite song on the album. I have most of the Mission’s catalog; except for God is a Bullet. So this was the first time I heard this song. It has a perfect melody bringing back memories of Carved in Sand and Masque. “It’s just like you oh Chelsea Blue to ask me to fly and then tether my wings.” Hussey is best when he is responding to vitriol from critics and those that betray, as he did so well with “Sticks and Stones,” one of my favorite Mission songs. This is a number in that same vein of a rebuttal to the treatment of a former lover or friend. The Middle Eastern/Dick Dale mixed guitar and melody is wonderful. I could listen to this one all day. It features brilliant guitar and vocal work. Hussey’s delivery of this rebuttal statement is just amazing. “You raise your sword to my olive branch / And your empire falls like an avalanche.” The drum at the end even sounds like bullets being fired.
Acoustic Blush (previously only available digitally in Europe as an extra track with the “Blush” single release)
This is an acoustically driven song with excellent vocals which really drive home the power of the piece. This scut can be interpreted in a number of ways. “She’s got her hands on my steering wheel / driving my car and I’m just a passenger /Taking me to heaven again.” But no matter which way you interpret it, it delivers inspiration. The supporting vocals are a nice effect balancing the sound. The acoustic guitar playing is some of the best on the album and I’m glad they included this tune for those of us who missed its initial release. 
Thine (previously only available digitally in Europe as an extra track with the “Blush” single release)
Cool gothic strings and riffs open this song. You can really feel the depth of this one right from the start. We get deep lyrics and emotional delivery from Hussey. “It always breaks my heart, when we’re apart.” The soaring guitar riffs are just incredible. The bass and patted drums add to the tension and power of the composition. But it’s over much too soon.
So Many Things (new song)
This is another of the new pieces and an indication of where the band may have headed if they didn’t decide on this indefinite hiatus. It’s another solid rocker driven by vocals and lyrics. “So many things that I can’t believe / but that doesn’t mean they’re not true.” Hussey’s vocals dance around the critic’s analysis and attacks. The guitar riffs, bass and drums support the lyrics well providing that quirky melody, which fits so nicely with the words.
Still Deep Waters (instrumental, previously unreleased)
We get synths and what almost sounds like chants mixed with chimes and the slow thud of the patted drums. It’s an excellent opening for this instrumental track. This is very dark and haunting, with excellent lead guitar riffs and powerful bass for support. The chimes and percussion are fantastic. It is also erfect title for the number.
Katya’s Lullaby (new song, Wayne Hussey demo)
Slow lead electric and bass open this lullaby. Then the drums and keys enter and I sense a Giorgio Moroder kind of theme to it. This reminds me of some of the soundtrack from Midnight Express in its high moments. This is a slow grinding and dramatic instrumental piece.
Aquarius & Gemini (a cappella, previously unreleased)
Here is another of the best songs on this album. Keyboards open this with Hussey’s vocals echoing, “She comes and she goes /  She ebbs and she flows.” Beautiful female vocals fill the air and bounce in and out with Hussey’s. There is perfect synchronization of each vocalist, highlighted with echo effects, adding drama so well. The piano and keys surround in the background.
The Earth You Walk Upon (new song)
Cool synths and echoed buzz guitar effects are surrounded by cool mint bass. The lead guitar pulls through to build a powerful entrance. “Nobody loves me like you do / Bury my secrets deep inside of you.” There is an almost Queen harmony section supporting Hussey’s lead vocal which truly adds flavor to the mix. It’s such a shame they won’t be making more of this music. It shows such promise. “Worship the Earth you walk upon.” The lead guitar and those buzzing effects continue, adding their cool presence to this soundscape. This is an excellent tune that really makes you hope they come back in a few years with a new album.
Stranger In A Foreign Land – (new song, Wayne Hussey demo)
This is my second favorite song on the album. Imagine Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” twisted, and then set to the rhythm and melody of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” That is what you have here. It is so genius to pair the two! The powerful drums and bass really stand out, but it’s Hussey’s vocals that really shine here. “You’re so dumb; I bet you’ll never guess that this song is about you.” The lead guitar riff in the middle would make Jimmy Page smile. The drums on this track provide a powerful backbeat and rhythm. When they let the Led out in the middle you don’t want it to ever end. The growing power and push of this song is incredible. Would have been a great closer, but there are some similarities between this one and the finale. 
Blush Remodel (previously only available digitally in Europe as an extra track with the “Blush” single release)
This is an electronic trance mix of “Acoustic Blush.” Synths, Middle Eastern sounds, drums and effects provide the setting for the same lyrics as “Acoustic Blush.” It’s a nice spin on the earlier song.
Dumb (Dambusters 617 Squadron mix by Mark Gemini Thwaite – previously unreleased)
We get voices and effects in the background before U2 sounding guitars and cool synth effects enter. This is a trancelike version of “Stranger in a Foreign Land,” with the same lyrics. The keyboards and bass figure more prominently on this version. It’s a great way to close the album. There is power coming at you from all sides of the room.
 
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